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Google launches 'right to be forgotten' service

30 May 2014

Following a landmark European Union court case, Google has set up an online form enabling Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from online search results.

The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that a Google search result, showing an auction notice of his repossessed home, infringed his privacy. On 13 May, the EU's court of justice ruled that links on search engines to data that is ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed’ should be erased on request.

Google’s response has been to create a form, which can be viewed here.

As well as personal details and a photo ID, it requires individuals to provide links associated with the name which they want to be removed, and a reason for the request.

The form states that Google ‘will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or public conduct of government officials’.

The BBC has reported that more than half of requests sent to Google from UK individuals involved convicted criminals wanting data about their convictions to be erased.

Google CEO Larry Page has been critical of the ruling, saying in an interview with the Financial Times that ‘as we regulate the internet, I think we're not going to see the kind of innovation we've seen’, and warning that it could encourage ‘other governments that aren't as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things’.